'I could just feel it': How OU women's gymnastics closed out to win sixth NCAA title

FORT WORTH, Texas — Not everyone at Dickies Arena on Saturday for the NCAA women's gymnastics finals was thrilled that at the end, it was top-ranked OU standing in the center of the arena with blue and white confetti swirling as the Sooners celebrated yet another national title.

Sooners personnel on the floor spotted some fans wearing, “Anyone but Oklahoma,” T-shirts.

OU provided those fans with little hope Saturday.

The Sooners knocked off Florida 198.3875-198.2375 to win its sixth title — all in the last decade.

Utah finished third at 197.9375 and LSU fourth at 197.5250.

Last year, the Sooners had to battle back from an early hole to win the title.

This time, there was little late drama.

Going into the final rotation, only disaster would have kept OU from winning its sixth national championship.

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By the time the Sooners started on the floor exercise to end the night, OU had its fill of adversity for the season.

The team that battled through Olivia Trautman being told she should medically retire, two falls on the balance beam in the regional finals two weeks earlier that left the Sooners little room for error just to make it back to Fort Worth, and then Thursday’s less-than-stellar ending that left them with a second-place finish wasn’t having any negativity.

Instead, Saturday turned into a coronation.

Well before the first rotation began, Sooners coach K.J. Kindler felt her team was locked in.

“I could tell from the warm-up that their bodies were feeling really good,” Kindler said. “You know if their bodies are in a good place and their minds are in a good place, we’re ready to go and I could tell by the energy and the camaraderie in the locker room and the way they were jelling that we were in a really good place.

“I was content and happy with whatever happened today.”

That energy became evident from the get-go, as OU jumped ahead on the vault and led after each rotation.

By the time Danielle Sievers started a near-flawless 9.95 floor routine, the Sooners had already clinched the program’s second consecutive title.

Sievers knew the situation, after seeing Kindler’s celebration following Danae Fletcher’s 9.9375 in the fifth spot.

“I could just feel it when everyone walked in,” Sievers said. “It was just a great day for all of us.”

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The Oklahoma women's gymnastics team celebrates with the trophy as confetti falls after the Sooners won the NCAA championships Saturday at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Vault change pays off for Sooners

Freshman Faith Torrez was a regular in the Sooners’ vault lineup early in the season.

Torrez was in the lineup in the event in four of the first five events of the season, but before Saturday had competed just once on the vault since.

But Sooners coach K.J. Kindler and assistant Lou Ball made a late change to the lineup in the finals, inserting Torrez into the lineup in the fifth spot in place of Audrey Davis.

Torrez stuck her landing, earning a career high with a 9.925.

"As coaches, we're always trying to do what our gut tells us because different people are hot on different days," Kindler said. "Today, we just felt like Faith was in a zone on vault."

Olivia Trautman, who won the individual championship in the event Thursday, matched her semifinals performance with a 9.95 in the anchor spot to close the rotation strong.

The Sooners finished with a 49.5625 in the event, topping the 49.4625 they posted in the semifinals.

After one rotation, OU led Florida by 0.0375, with Utah third and LSU fourth.

"Our vaults were very clean, very big, and we got a couple landings in there," Kindler said. "It was a really good, high-energy start."

More: OU women's gymnastics assistant Ashley Kerr misses NCAA final to give birth to daughter

Apr 15, 2023; Fort Worth, TX, USA; The University of Oklahoma Sooners celebrate with the trophy as confetti falls after the Sooners win the national championship at the NCAA Women's National Gymnastics Tournament Championship at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Olivia Trautman’s OU career ends with a title

Sooners star Olivia Trautman didn’t post her highest score in her final event of the afternoon.

In fact, Trautman’s 9.825 on the balance beam was OU’s lowest score of the day on any event.

But the way Trautman finished was emblematic of her career.

The oft-injured but always-solid-in-the-postseason Trautman wobbled twice on the beam but recovered to finish the routine strong.

"I'm sure there were some emotions going through her," Sooners coach K.J. Kindler said.

Trautman’s night to that point was superb, with a 9.95 on both the vault and beam.

“Our biggest inspiration on the team for sure,” Danielle Sievers said.

Trautman was told before the season to medically retire, but bucked the suggestion to play a major role in yet another title.

"It's amazing," Trautman said. "This is just like icing on the top. I came back for a reason and this is what we wanted to do the whole entire year and we just did it together."

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma Sooners capture sixth NCAA women's gymnastics national title